Radio show fills CFSB Center with laughter, bluegrass

Savannah Sawyer
Staff writer

Photos by Allie Douglass/The News

It was a packed night Saturday at the CSFB Center with people of all ages.

The University had the honor of hosting “A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor last weekend.

A Prairie Home Companion, a radio variety show that airs from 5 to 7 p.m. every Saturday, brought nearly 4,000 people to Murray State Saturday night.

The show came to Murray because WKMS, a local non-profit radio station based at Murray State, requested them.

“We wanted to get them here with our station because we’d heard of other stations in rural areas that they went to,” Kate Lochte, station manager at WKMS, said. “We just started communicating with them on an annual basis about what a good crowd they would get if they came here and how we would really love to have them.”

Though she is the station’s manager, Lochte does not take all of the credit for getting the show booked at the CFSB Center.

“I was just sort of in the middle of a team at the station and with volunteers at Murray State and the CSFB Center,” she said. “I’m just sort of in the middle of everybody who worked on it.”

The show paid a small homage to Tom Keith, their sound effects worker, who recently died.

“He was adorable,” Sue Scott, actress from the program, said about Keith. “I marveled with what he could do onstage.”

Pat Donohue, guitarist for the program, also had nice things to say of Keith’s work.

“He didn’t waste time yet he had all the time he needed. I’m glad to say I never wasted a moment being with Tom Keith,” Donohue said.

The program itself was a tribute to Bill Monroe who is known for creating the music genre bluegrass.

All of the musicians featured in Saturday’s performance were close to Monroe. A majority of the performers were part of his band, the Blue Grass Boys.

The show brings in audiences of all ages from all over the country. Some traveled far just to see the performance.

Caitlyn Gallip, nonstudent, attends the University of Missouri, but came to Murray just for the show.

“I have been listening since I was a child,” Gallip said. “We would listen on long road trips.”

Overall, Lochte was pleased with the outcome of the show and the reactions from the audience.

“I thought that the crowd was really pleased with it,” Lochte said. “I sensed a lot of goodwill in the crowd and the ‘Prairie Home Companion’ people were really pleased with the reception that everybody gave.”

Students of Murray State were also impressed by the performance.

“I liked the little man playing the mandolin,” Ashlee Futrell, junior from Cadiz, Ky., said. “It really impressed me.”

The radio show has been on the air for many years.

“The show began in St. Paul, Minn., in the summer of 1974,” Garrison Keillor, host of the program, said. “Some musician friends and me were trying to do a live stage show on radio, like the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, singing old songs about loving one who doesn’t love you and longing to catch a freight train and find a place where the water doesn’t taste like turpentine.”

Being a long running program, “A Prairie Home Companion” has allowed individuals to grow up with the program throughout the years.

“I grew up listening to it,” Jeffery Young, senior from Hopkinsville, Ky., said.

The show has now been on air for 38 years and is played on 600 public radio stations nationwide. The show brings in an audience of more than 4 million listeners each week.

Contact Sawyer